GRAFTON, Mass. – With Grafton's EEE risk level now at high, the school department is mandating that all school-sponsored outdoor activities conclude by 7 p.m., a move that will have a ripple effect on all sports leagues that use the athletic fields.
A Central Massachusetts child on Monday became the third person in the state diagnosed with EEE, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The death of a Westborough man from the mosquito-borne ailment raised the risk level in that town to critical while boosting the risk in surrounding towns to high on Friday.
Superintendent of Schools James Cummings said the threat has been "the number one topic" among area athletic directors, particularly since most area football games and many soccer games are now played in evenings beneath the lights.
"I'm told that we may have to wait until the first frost, which is usually in October," Cummings said. "That is longer than I had expected."
The 7 p.m. time is also not set in stone as the onset of autumn brings sunset at earlier times.
Other Central Mass. towns set similar limits Monday, including Shrewsbury, Northborough and Southborough.
Cummings said the school department will work with Grafton Pop Warner and other groups that use the fields to ensure all groups get their field times within the constraints.
The Daily Voice will be providing updated game times as they become available.